The solitary pulmonary nodule on chest radiography: Can we really tell if the nodule is calcified?

W. G. Berger, W. K. Erly, E. A. Krupinski, J. R. Standen, R. G. Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

OBJECTIVE. This study was designed to assess the ability of radiologists to accurately detect calcification within a solitary pulmonary nodule with chest radiography. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Thirty-five solitary pulmonary nodules that were examined by both posteroanterior and lateral chest radiography and on thin-section CT were retrospectively identified. Fourteen radiologists blinded to the results of CT assessed the nodules for the presence or absence of calcification using chest radiographs alone. The radiologists then assigned one of six values on the basis of their confidence in that assessment. The accuracy and confidence values for each nodule were analyzed on the basis of the presence or absence of calcification as seen on CT. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were generated. RESULTS. The positive predictive value of a "definitely calcified" assessment was 0.93. Combining all levels of radiologists' confidence, the sensitivity of the chest radiograph in the detection of calcium was 0.50 and the specificity was 0.87. There was no difference in the confidence levels reported between the calcified and noncalcified nodules, and there was no correlation of nodule size with accuracy or confidence level. CONCLUSION. The ability of radiologists to detect calcium in a solitary pulmonary nodule by chest radiography was low, as defined by the ROC data. Of the "definitely calcified" nodules, up to 7% may not be calcified and may be potentially malignant. Without documentation of long-term stability, a low threshold for recommending CT may be appropriate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-204
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Volume176
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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